In today’s marketplace, real estate agents need high-quality websites. Your website can help establish you as an experienced professional, draw new leads in your direction, serve as proof of your authority, and support your clients as they purchase a home or sell one.
Nowadays, lacking a solid website can communicate to potential clients that you’re unprofessional or that you’re an amateur. There’s no getting around it; your website deserves your time and attention.
This being said, many people aren’t entirely sure what constitutes a high-quality website, especially if digital skills are a little outside their comfort zone. The following will explore a few useful website design tips specifically for realtors. Of course, some of these tips will apply to other industries as well, but real estate has the added component of providing access to home search and listing information for their clients, which makes their websites unique.
A Good Domain Name
Starting with the most basic element of a website, it’s important that you select a good domain name. Your domain name is your website’s address, and the words included in it are considered keywords by search engines. You want something that is easy for people to spell and remember, and this means that you don’t want to use any unusual words or spellings; you also don’t want it to be any longer than it has to be. It’s also worth noting that you want to avoid numbers, hyphens, and a domain extension that is popular (most people assume a website ends in .com). Finally, make your domain name search-friendly. Something like Las Vegas Realtor is fairly likely to align with searches.
Security Comes First
Once you have your domain name, you’re going to want to find a website hosting platform. There are countless options available on the market that can host your website, but you should be looking for the most secure options. Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable commodity, and it isn’t showing any signs of stopping. Anything that has people’s information like their email addresses, physical addresses, or login information is equivalent to a giant target for hackers and cybercriminals. It is estimated that people lost nearly seven billion dollars last year to cybercrime.
Find a secure host that provides dedicated servers or virtual private servers (VPS) rather than shared servers. These tend to be more expensive, but they’re far safer. You want to find a server that allows for access via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). This will allow for daily backups of your content. You also want to find an easy method (one or two clicks) that allows you to install Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. Finally, when selecting a hosting company, look for one that offers support via phone or chat so that if there’s an issue, you can get ahold of someone quickly to sort it out.
Install A WordPress Theme
Whatever hosting platform you go with, you’re going to need to install a theme onto the domain unless you know how to build a theme from scratch. Themes are customizable templates that serve as the bones of your site. You want something that is clear, easy to navigate, and not too busy. You also want something that is going to work with the home search plug-in you want to install if you’ve already decided what that is. If you have no idea where to start, peruse this list of themes for Realtor websites with IDX. It should give you an idea of what sort of themes suit real estate websites.
Your Business Description
Your business description should be front and center on your website; people should know as soon as they’ve landed on your page what you do and how you help people. Confusion online always results in someone clicking back and selecting another site. Consider the first large banner an elevator pitch for your website. It should state clearly who you are, who you help, what you help them do, and why people benefit. This should fit in one or two sentences.
Install Your Main Plug-ins
This step is unique to real estate businesses. In almost every case, you’re going to want to install a plug-in that allows visitors to your site to search home listings. A software plug-in is a far better solution to sharing listings than copying and posting listings as they arrive. It saves you time and energy and allows anyone visiting your page to access the latest information possible.
You might also want to add additional plug-ins that aren’t strictly necessary but help streamline your process. Something like Follow Up Boss can automate following up on leads that your listing plug-in has developed. This can help you keep leads warm and save you time and money in the process.
All Your Information
All the information a person needs to decide to work with you and contact you needs to be easily accessible on your site. You want an “About” page that shares your story emphasizing why you do what you do and how you differ from your competition. You’re also going to want a reviews/testimonials section where potential clients can hear from previous clients about their experience working with you. Quotations are powerful, but the video is the magic ingredient in this department. Get in the habit of asking any happy clients to speak about their experience with you for thirty seconds on video (get the help of a videographer if you need it). Video is one of the most effective marketing tools out there because humans are fantastic at reading subtle cues from each other, so they tend to trust far more when they see someone talking on video compared to when they read written content.
Your contact information needs to be readily available to find and use, and you want, at the minimum, a frequently asked questions page. Not only will this help keep you from answering the same questions a million times over, but it will also help boost your search engine ranking. If people regularly ask you the same handful of questions, you can bet that they’re also asking search engines those questions.
Make It Pretty
The above contains all the most basic elements a website needs. Once those are in place, take the time to make it visually appealing. If this isn’t where your skillsets lie, bring in a graphic designer to help you choose fonts, colors, and images. You want lots of negative space and text that is easy to read. You also want consistent branded colors that people can come to associate with your work. You might want to research a little color psychology when making the selection because the dominant colors on a website are going to influence the mental state of the people browsing.
When you add big images or videos to your site, you slow down the loading speed. A slow loading speed is the kiss of death for websites because people will click back after three seconds if a page isn’t visible. There are tons of websites that allow you to paste your URL into a search box to find out your load speed. You can increase your hosting capabilities (this often involves getting a bigger, more expensive package), but you can also make sure that all photos and videos you post on your site are optimized.
More people are searching on their phones now than on computers. This means your website absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile usage. Check out what your site looks like on mobile and make any changes you see necessary.
Content For Search Engine Optimization
Once you have all the basics on your site, it’s time to start optimizing it. The most beautiful page in the world isn’t going to matter if no one finds it. You want to create content that people are looking for. For each question you get asked regularly, consider writing an entire blog post of 1200-2500 words breaking down the answer and any additional information someone asking that question might want to know. When someone searches their query into a search engine, there’s now a chance that your page will show up in the results, creating warm leads as someone searching: how to prepare a house for selling might very well be looking for an agent to help them with the process.
Take the time to research terms you think people who need your services might be searching for. There are several sites that allow you to explore search terms and keywords; you can also reach out to a digital marketing team for help with this. Any topic or question that has lots of searches but comparatively few results is one you should be creating a blog post about. Be sure to mention these key search terms two to ten times in your post, especially in the title and headings. Any more than this, and you’re risking having search engines think that you’re keyword-stuffing.
Finally, you want to insert hyperlinks between your articles to keep people on your site and reading. A simple: ‘for more information on the curbside appeal, you can check out my article on prepping your home’s exterior for a sale’ with a link can ensure that people read multiple pages on your site. When people arrive on your website and stay for a while, search engines take this to mean that the recommendation was good, that your content is useful and that they should recommend more of what you have to offer in the future.
Get Your Links In Order
Additionally, as part of improving your search engine optimization (because, again, you want your website to be coming up in as many relevant searches as possible), you want to seek out ways to have high-quality sites link back to your website. You might accomplish this by answering questions on Quora or other forums or submitting articles about the current real estate market to local news outlets or online real estate blogs, asking to have a link to your site at the end. Not only will this help market you as an agent because it presents you as an expert in your field, it will also help search engines deem your website more trustworthy because other websites are ‘vouching’ for you.
You might also want to install tools that help you study people’s behavior on your site. If there is one article, for instance, that immediately leads to lots of people clicking your contact information and reaching out, you want to know. You can create more content along with this topic. Likewise, if there’s something that people see and then leave your site regularly, you also want to know. Analytics tools can also help you figure out which tactics you’re employing to draw visitors to your site are most effective. You might discover that certain search terms bring people to you or that a particular guest post you published on someone else’s site is bringing lots of viewers to you. You can use this information to create more content around those terms or write a secondary guest post for that other site.
Once you have a beautiful, high-functioning website that is drawing organic searchers, the work isn’t done. Websites need to be updated regularly to stay relevant. This includes adding new content based on current search terms and keeping up with client expectations. You might find that suddenly a new home search tool is taking the market by storm, and you want to install that on your site. You might find that you have dozens of happy client testimonials that need to be added to the site. Part of this process involves staying up-to-date on trends in the industry and what your competitors are offering.
The above information should help you create a stellar real estate agent website. The process might seem daunting at first, but once you jump in and spend time watching a few tutorial videos, you’ll begin to see that it’s not so tricky after all. In today’s digital world, everyone has two jobs; they have the work they do, and then they have the marketing efforts they need to apply to bring their work to the people who need it most. Your website is a huge portion of that secondary job, and though it seems like lots of work upfront, if properly approached, it will provide fantastic returns.